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Updating the home office

Terri Sapienza
L.A. Times/Washington Post News Service
Washington Post photo by Matthew Worthen
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WASHINGTON – Kelly Porter had an office inside her suburban home, but she never used it. Each day she would set up shop with her laptop at the kitchen island.

The home office, which her family of five shared, “never felt right,” says the designer and color consultant (www.porterhousedesigns.com). “I never felt comfortable. I never felt inspired.”

With hunter green carpeting, beige wallpaper and dark- and medium-toned wood furniture, the 10-by-12-foot space felt much more masculine – and much less colorful – than Porter, 42, preferred. While the look satisfied the men in her house (a husband, a 14-year-old and 11-year-old twins), Porter pined for something a little more her style.



So, earlier this year she convinced her husband it was time for a change.

Using bold paint colors and a list of budget-friendly resources, Porter transformed the fusty family office into a modern and colorful space she now calls her own. “It’s really become my sanctuary,” she says. “If I shut the door, I really feel like I’m in a different place. I call it my mom cave.”

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The entire makeover was done for less than $3,500. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get good design, says Porter, who shopped at HomeGoods, Ikea and Target. “I think the best-designed spaces are a combination of items in different price points. It gives the room character.”

First she picked a palette of her three favorite colors: lavender, aqua and chocolate brown. For accents, she chose orange: “It adds a lot of energy to a space.”

Then she balanced the color with white furniture. “With all these colors going on in a small space, I needed the eyes to rest on something. The white breaks up the room and makes everything more peaceful.”



She finished by adding family photos, cushions and practical yet pretty accessories.

Although the room is hers, Porter wanted the whole family to enjoy it, so she chose furniture that would encourage company. “I set up two desks so my sons could do homework in here while I’m here. But they won’t come in and work because it’s too girly.”

Not that she’s complaining.

“I love being surrounded by pretty things,” says Porter. “Color: It adds beauty; it adds energy. Why would you not want that?”

– HomeGoods (www.homegoods.com) “Great for affordable accessories and accent furniture pieces. They offer different styles (modern, traditional, vintage, etc.), and you can find furnishings for every room in your home. I also like that they bring in new items weekly.”

– Z Gallerie (www.zgallerie.com) “It’s a good place to find trendy items that have a high-end look at reasonable prices.”

– West Elm (www.westelm.com) Modern, clean-lined furniture at reasonable prices. “A great source for office furniture.”

– Anthropologie (www.anthropologie.com) “I love the `bohemian chic’ style of their furnishings. They offer beautifully patterned and colorful upholstered pieces and area rugs. Their items bring a casual elegance to any space.”

– Theodores (www.theodores.com) and Vastu (www.vastudc.com) “For contemporary furnishings and lighting.”

– Novica (www.novica.com) “This site offers beautiful and unique home furnishings – clothes and jewelry, too – handcrafted by artisans from around the globe.”

– Brandon of Hunt Valley, in Baltimore County (www.brandonofhuntvalley.com) “A huge showroom stocked with classic, traditional furnishings, accessories and artwork. You can purchase anything off the floor. They get new items in often, and the staff is very friendly and helpful.”


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